Someday when I’m reclining on the beach at my Greek island estate, my skin tan and smooth like a tub of gravy left on the counter overnight, I’ll think back on my years spent in Wisconsin and fondly shake my head as I recall the endless nights of howling, frozen winds and how I somehow – impossibly – wasn’t driven insane by the noise.
This, of course, is pure speculation. I may yet veer sharply into the light-deprived depths of insanity, especially with the way that this winter seems to just go on. Yesterday I stared into a 60 watt light bulb for thirty minutes, desperately trying to remember the sun. Outside, snow poured from the skies like an errant salt shaker, covering barren branches and dead-brown lawns. Sure, it’s still March and this kind of shit happens, historically speaking, all the time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be goddamn sick of it.
And the howling, oh god, the howling. If I could capture the noise in an mp3 file I would, simply so I could play it for others and ensure that I’m not the only one hearing this undead moan emanating from the courtyard. As it stands, I’ll have to use my words:
Imagine you’re standing in a cemetery. Not one of those Olde English graveyards with lots of grassy fields and an assortment of minor, crumbling markers. There is no massive cathedral off to the left, looming assertively over the graves. This a pure Southern Gothic cemetery, with endless dark rows of eerie stone mausoleums, broken up only by the occasional low-hanging cypress, spanish moss dangling silently from the lower boughs.
Perhaps you’re near the tomb of a loved one. Or perhaps not, that point isn’t important. You’re somewhere near the center of the cemetery, though, far from any boundary with the real world, dead center in the land of the deceased. And you’re lost, to boot. You meant to spend an afternoon wandering among the tombs, as if the mementos of the departed were a grand tourist attraction, but you got a late start and now the sun has set and all these rows seem quite the same. It’s almost as if the cemetery has grown around you, lending itself new crypts in an effort to mislead you.
Perish the thought. It’s late, you’re tired, the exit is near no doubt. You take a deep breath, resign yourself to another few minutes of nervous wandering, and move.
And hold that breath in as a chill wind caresses your exposed skin like a bony finger dipped in ice water.
You turn slowly into the wind, not sure what to expect. There’s no sound, not even the rustle of the spanish moss brushing across the stone seal of nearby crypts. Just that cold air, washing over you, raising goosebumps in places you didn’t know you had. Nothing behind you but the air, the dark, the stark, straight path lined with uneven tombs.
And a sound, suddenly, rising from all directions at once and yet from nowhere at all. A rising, rushing symphony, gushing between the mausoleums, low to the ground, agile, angry, piercing – it flies up and collapses around you in a relentless howl, the dead awakened from dormant eons beneath the thick, dark earth, free at last – and desperate.
This is what I hear every night as I lie in bed in the dark of my bedroom, hoping for sleep, wishing for silence. Every. Damn. Night.